The older I get the more I hate being around people. Maybe that’s not fair. Maybe it’s crowds that I hate. But crowds are made up of people, otherwise they’d be called herds or gaggles. They sure aren’t prides because they do stupid things, so fuck that. It’s people I don’t like.
One early morning trip through the Washington DC airport puts me in a bad mood because of the people that surround me. A businessman gets pissed when the TSA agent refuses to let him go straight to the front of the line to get through security. Just past the security area I can’t find a place to put my shoes on because a lady has sprawled her entire family out on the benches provided by the airport. A teenager struggles with the English language while she orders a coffee. “Uh…like…me want a mocha. Giggle giggle.” As I get money from the ATM, a group of mid-twenties douchebags stands over my shoulder talking loudly on their cell phones. Whether or not they were trying to scam my PIN doesn’t matter. Stand somewhere else before I stick a pen through your windpipe. Two teenagers banter with each other while bits of their sausage crossanwich fall out of their mouths to the floor. My mom would have slapped the stupid out of me for that.
I feel like I’m walking through a zoo peering curiously at the bewildering animals on display. Or am I the one truly on display: a fossil of a bygone age? We all made fun of stoggy older folks when we were kids, but they had white hair, napped on your couch, and smelled like menthol. I used to listen to Robert D. Raeford rant about my generation on the radio and laugh at how stereotypically curmudgeon he was. Little did I know the truth he spoke or how wonderful my parents really were until I became one. I’m only forty and barely removed from my physical prime. Just a few years ago I would have dove into a mosh pit without even thinking about it. Now, I get violent when my personal space is violated and need a Rockstar if I plan on staying up past 11.
I don’t expect conformity and believe personal nuances make us unique, but even the most basic social decorum and sense of compassion for others seems to be dead. An airline stewardess walks past me and drops a napkin, leaving it because she probably thinks, “someone gets paid to pick that up so I’m not going to.” Across the gate I see an elderly woman looking for a seat. No one gets up to offer her one.
I wish life were like basic training. I want to leap out of my seat and lock everyone’s boot heels together so I can put the fear of God into them, which might be the heart of the matter. As a career military man, I expect everyone to have the same sense of discipline and selfless service as me. The reality is that’s simply not true. Those of us with military experience are truly different from the rest of the world. It either changes us or amplifies the best parts of us. It makes us see things in black and white. Do this. Don’t do that. 1000 hours means 1000 hours, not 1001. There are two types of people-the quick and the dead.
I would entertain the thought of pulling a Georgia O’Keefe and moving out to a desolate part of the country, like Wyoming or Montana, to be a secluded cattle rancher, but I’m afraid of the militant anti-government groups who congregate there. They’d find out I moved in, learn about my military background (probably from Semper Fi Hank) and try to recruit me to stockpile supplies and await (or hasten) Armageddon. I would refuse, not because they’re completely bat shit crazy or because I don’t fancy declaring war on the US government, but because I don’t look good in their mid-80’s field jackets that they seem to have an abundance of. Besides, I wouldn’t be much company to them. Before long I’d bitch about the wide-open prairies, the majestic views, and the unholy clean air.
And that there are no people around.